Lizzy Stewart

For us to say that we only love Lizzy's Stewart's illustrations and zines would be the biggest understatement of the decade. We're kind of in luff^100000000 with her...that doesn't really make sense but neither does our obsession. Seeing her new projects pop up on her blog always inspire me to pick up a pencil and spend hours in my sketchbook, it's the kind of work I would love to be doing. Not only do I admire her style, but the narrative and imagination behind each new project. Recently Lizzy finished up a zine of her take on her favorite pieces of artwork which I'm *hoping* she restocks soon (I'm not being very subtle with my hints in case she's reading) because I can't wait to buy it. 

Lizzy was nice enough to answer a few questions for us about the tricky nature of inspiration, her creative process, and self-publishing. You can find more about her and her work on her website, blog & purchase her work from her etsy shop.

Where do you draw your inspiration? Are there any artists, illustrators, or films in particular that have influenced your work?
Honestly? I sort of hate this question. Eeek! Sorry. I just can pin it down that easily! I wish I could say that a certain book always inspires me or a film or something. But inspiration can be erratic and unreliable, at least for me. It crops up in unexpected places and often at the most inconvenient times. I'll spend weeks stabbing at my page with a pencil, not knowing what to draw and then go out for coffee and see someone wearing a peculiar hat and suddenly i'll know what i'm meant to be drawing (that's fictional by the way. I've, thus far, never been inspired by a hat. But you get the gist.) Saying that watching the older Woody Allen movies always makes me want to write, seeing the textiles at the Victoria & Albert museums makes me wish I could design fabrics and I will forever be sad that I cannot write a song as perfect as 'No Children' by the Mountain Goats (nor can I write an imperfect song either).

Can you elaborate on your creative process from the idea of a project to the final piece?
I tend to carry an idea in my pocket for a while before I start drawing. I mull it over for a while, write it down in my notebook. Try and work it all out in my hear first. I'm not very good at doing roughs and plans so just thinking about it for a while stops me ploughing in and making a mess. After that I tend to start drawing. Sometimes a piece exists solely as drawings and sometimes I'll scan it and work on it in photoshop.  

How do you come up with your ideas for zines? Do you usually have a narrative you’d like to get across, or do you see them as a way to challenge yourself to create? 
I like zines to have some kind of tangible thread holding them together. Zines are, of course, ephemeral by nature. It's rare that you return to a zine again and again, unlike a book. So I want to make that first visit as involving as possible. I'll work from a quote or with a narrative and try and make something complete. Mostly I have a phrase or a mood that I've been thinking about for a while and thats where it starts.  I like to work quickly on zines. They're not the focus of my work really so it's fun just to get them out quickly, make sure they feel urgent and immediate. 

Can you tell us a bit about how you organized larger scale projects, like We Are the Friction, and get people from all over with different creative backgrounds involved?   
I run Sing Statistics with my boyfriend Jez. We started it when were both back in Uni and initially we were just going to publish our own projects. Quickly we became aware that it'd be much more fun to make books with people we admire and respect so we published We Are the Friction with twelve writers and twelve illustrators we really liked. It was fun. Mostly we found that folk are lovely and generous with their time and talent. We were very fortunate to get the people we asked involved with little to no experience behind. Our more recent publication (published this month) is reverence library which includes writers and illustrators again but working from non-fiction themes. It can be hard wrangling work around the deadlines but so far its been more or less straightforward. We just want to make beautiful books with good people. 

What do you like about independent publishing? Have you made any mistakes along the way that you have learned from?
It can be a headache. Logistically its waaaay beyond anything I was taught at art school. And financially its terrifying but at the end of it you have a book. And it has your name on it and you've inputted into how it looks and whats in it and thats a pretty awesome feeling. The first book we did (which just featured me and Jez) is one of my proudest achievements. I love it. It represents so much hard work and its totally ours. Its a great thing to do. As long as you do it for the right reasons. 

What projects do you have planned? Do you have any dream collaborations or projects (however unlikely!) that you would like to accomplish in the long-term?
There's always tonnes I want to do. Most of it will never happen. Some of it might one day. I'd like to draw pictures for a novelist. I like the idea of grown up picture books. Visual storytelling shouldn't just be for kids. Someone with rich narratives and a penchant for telling sad stories would be good please! I want to write a bit maybe, maybe go back to large-scale painting (which I used to do all the time). I don't know really. At the moment it feels like i'm in transition somehow; like my work is evolving a bit. I'm not sure where it will take me so i'm just sitting back and waiting to find out!
Thanks, Lizzy!


  1. Ooh, was reading about her the other day in Oh Comely. Best magazine ever. Do you know it? x

  2. I've heard of it and have been meaning to get my hands on a copy! One day...


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